Plumb tree

The French are largely heathen, even more so than the Brits, and yet round here virtually every village has an ancient church, its walls covered by enormous, deeply dreary paintings. I have never noticed one that has been turned into a burger bar or converted into flats or an antiques warehouse. There’s even one on the horizon that had mostly slipped down the hill but it’s now being restored. The French don’t seem that interested in their heritage and the listing system for old buildings is nothing like as comprehensive as the UK’s. Nor is there an equivalent of the National Trust. Churches, like all religious property, were taken over by the state in 1905. If ours is anything to go by, they have become the responsibility of the communes. Ours may be used no more than once every couple of months for a baptism or a funeral and yet we voluntarily spend a large proportion of the village’s revenue to keep the building intact. I’m not sure why the difference.

‘Do you want to die in France or the UK?’ That’s a key question for aging Brits. I heard of an octogenarian with a pacemaker who has been back in England a year and has still not succeeded in seeing the doctor with whom he is registered as a patient. It’s not like that here. Drop in to the surgery and you come out with appointments with specialists for further examinations and drug prescriptions. I have 24 printed labels with my name on them to stick on the little jam jar when nursie sends off my blood to be tested. I never remember a single such test in the UK. Sometimes I feel like Gulliver ensnared by a myriad of Lilliputian medicaments that are said to be keeping me alive. Which are really worth taking? Does this one reduce the likelihood of a heart attack tomorrow by 3% or 60%? Does this concoction of peanut oil and African plumb trees really help me pee more easily? How much more easily? And is its benefit worth the hassle of spending an hour in the waiting room because the doc is behind time again to obtain it once more?

I have another week to wait for new teeth. I seem to have a bite like Jaws, so these one will be reinforced with titanium to prevent them become shards when I chew with too much enthusiasm.

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